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Open questions and paradoxes

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Open questions and paradoxesEdit

Many of the routes and parts of the story in VLR leave questions open.  This section lists some of these questions, and possible answers to them.  Nothing here is official or recommended - feel free to add any questions or suggested answers you have!

Beware: this page contains spoilers for the entire game, plus the prequel 999!  It should really only be read after you've finished the game.

Whole game: Time travelEdit

The events in the game, in the order that Sigma experiences them, go something like this:

  • At age 22, he is attacked by Zero/Akane.  His consciousness jumps forward into his 67-year-old body in Rhizome-9.  Meanwhile, his 67-year-old consciousness is forced to jump back to his 22-year-old body.
  • Sigma plays the Nonary Game.  Meanwhile, his 67-year-old consciousness in the past is trying to stop the virus, and during the course of this attempt, has his arms ripped off and replaced with cybernetic ones.  Since the body Sigma is now in is the 67-year-old one that underwent this when it was 22, Sigma still has the same cyber arms.
  • Sigma completes the Nonary Game and his souls switch back to the correct versions of their bodies.  He speaks with Akane, who explains what is going on and also mentions that a previous attempt to stop the virus failed.
  • Sigma's 22-year-old body and soul go to Rhizome-9 and Sigma spends his life researching and preparing to become Zero and set up the Nonary Game.  Sigma puts himself into the AB Room with Phi just before the moment when he knows his 22-year-old soul will swap with him.
  • Sigma, now 67, is swapped into his 22-year-old body, arrives with Akane and attempts to stop the virus.

This gives rise to several problems: Time Travel Question A: Won't Sigma be unable to stop the virus, because by the time he gets to try, he has already experienced events that depend on him failing?

Phi explains to the conciousness inhabiting Kyle's body in Another Time END that if she tells him exactly why the mission failed then they will be locked into a future where their mission fails. The implication is that if anyone "observed" the failure, then Sigma would be unable to succeed, but as long as this remains unobserved it is still unknown and Sigma can succeed. Sigma, Phi, and the unknown conciousness, known as ?, will be creating a new timeline, point E, between December 25th, 2028, and January 1st, 2029. Akane tells ? that he is integral to the mission's success. In a way, we can assume that the first mission failed because of ?'s absence (speculation).

Time Travel Question B: Doesn't Sigma create a paradox by telling his previous self the code for Bomb 01, because no incarnation of Sigma has then ever gotten this information from Dio or anywhere else?

How does Sigma know the combination? He learns it from Doctor Klim. How does Doctor Klim know the combination? He used to be Sigma. But where the information comes from is an unresolved paradox.  The slight caveat to this is that Sigma could have somehow learned (or confirmed) the bomb code while in the Nevada test facility, but this would require either that Dio is there as well or that Free The Soul use standardised bomb passwords (which, given the passwords they do use, is possible)
Uchikoshi's own FAQ for the game [1] states that, on the path where the bombs appear, Akane tampered with the bombs after Dio was knocked unconscious by Phi. This is why the bombs count down in Radical-6 time and why the code for Bomb 01 decodes as "Kurashikis". However, since Dio does not arrive in the complex until after Sigma has switched minds with Dr Klim, there would still be no way for Sigma to learn the code to later tell to himself, unless Akane had somehow seen the entire future of the game, knew that bombs would be planted, knew that one in particular would need to be reprogrammed, and had agreed with Doctor Klim in advance what she would reprogram it to!

Time Travel Question C: If Free the Soul already "won" in the reality where the Game takes place (ie, the virus was released), why would Dio be trying to sabotage it?

Say we're using Tenmyouji's biker analogy. From Dio's point of view, he wants to make sure that the ninety bikers die, and to prevent any attempt by S to save them. But what he's effectively doing is to go to the biker's destination to the Northwest, and try to kill the surviving nine bikers. He isn't even specifically targeting S. How can this cause the bikers back at the intersection to keep going Northwest, or harm the bikers who went Northeast? 
Note that this question is slightly weaker than the previous ones, since there is no proof that Dio (or Brother, or anyone from Free the Soul) fully understands the operation of Akane's plans or of morphogenetic fields - in other words, he could just be making a mistake.

Time Travel Question D: What about Sigma's "extra" trip back in PHI; END?

What happens to Sigma isn't quite as simple as what Akane explains. After Doctor Klim puts Phi's body into the AB Room, he is forced out by the 22-year-old Sigma - but not the one from point A who has just been knocked unconscious by Zero, but the one from PHI; END who has already played the game and is arriving early to save Akane. After saving Akane, this Sigma swaps back to the end of the Nonary Game, Akane puts the bodies back into the AB Room and the original 22-year-old Sigma arrives. Nobody seems to mention this again.

There are several possible methods by which time travel might be working, which deal with these in different ways:

Closed Time Loop

In the previous game, 999, when Akane obtained information from the future version of herself playing the Nonary Game, she then had to go ahead and set up that Nonary Game in order that that particular future would exist for her to get the information from.  Sigma, therefore, will have to do the same.  This means that in the timeline where the game is played, Radical-6 was stopped, and the pandemic did not happen.  Akane is lying about Sigma's failure; the news broadcast, explosion, and newspaper are all fake; and the players of the game have been infected with Radical-6 by Zero before the game began.  One of the files does mention that putting on one of the bracelets causes you to be pierced by a needle; this needle could carry Radical-6, infecting all the players although there is no epidemic. 
This resolves question A (Sigma has already stopped the virus, he just needs to hide this from himself) and question C (Free the Soul didn't win), but it doesn't resolve B.  There is also a problem with Tenmyouji and Quark.  Unless their entire life experience could be faked (or they could be convinced to lie about basically everything to do with themselves), their experience on the devastated Earth wouldn't appear in the game.

Whole game: MoralityEdit

Are there versions of Sigma in alternate timelines who are being swapped into Sigma's body just to die?

In several sections of the game it's mentioned that Sigma swaps his consciousness with other versions of his body whenever he jumps.  The question is, does this apply also to the small jumps Sigma makes during the course of the Nonary Game?  If so, it implies that the power is a terrifying one with dreadful implications for Sigma.  For example, if Sigma reaches Clover's ending, but then jumps back to his first choice of door, what does that mean for the Sigma with whom he swapped?  From the other side, that Sigma was innocently walking up to the doors for the first time when he was forced into a body whose throat was already slashed open. 

Whole game: Radical-6Edit

Isn't the effect where characters suffer 'episodes' of Radical-6, and perceive everyone around them as speaking faster, backwards?

As we learn at the end, everyone in the game is affected with Radical-6. At several points in the game, players report hearing and seeing other people speaking or moving unnaturally fast, which is usually taken to imply that their Radical-6 infection is taking hold.
However, if everyone is infected with Radical-6, this doesn't make sense. The other person they see should not be speaking or moving fast, because that other person is also affected by R6 and would be speaking or moving at R6 speeds. The only way an infected person could see someone moving faster is if either the other person they were looking at did not have R6 or had somehow temporarily suppressed it; or if the R6 virus is taking extreme effect and slowing their brain down even more than R6 normally would.

Whole game: MiscellaneousEdit

Who is the woman speaking on the voice recording from the Test Site?

The game's author, Uchikoshi, has commented that Sigma, Phi, Junpei, the woman on whom Luna was based, and a version of Dio (a different clone of Left?) were all present at the test site (and will thus appear in the 3rd game).  The voice actress for the woman on the voice recording is the same as for Luna, implying that the woman making the recording may be the original Luna, but this is not absolutely clear.  Also, the recording states that the woman is one of three survivors out of nine, while VLR implies that Luna is dead (or, at least absent) and Sigma, Phi, and Junpei all survived.  It is possible that the woman on the recording did not account for Sigma and Phi in her count of nine, since they were presumably in the complex because they were infiltrating it, meaning that the three survivors were her, Junpei, and someone else.

Who is Phi?

The secret files basically confirm that Phi's identity cannot be found from VLR, and will appear in the sequel, but there are several suggestions that have been made.
One of these is that Phi is the daughter of one of the other players. The reason for this is in Tenmyouji's motorcycle analogy: he mentions "maybe one of them met a homeless kid who joined them", which is clearly a reference to Quark. He also mentions "maybe one of them fell in love with a waitress and had a child" - might that not be a reference to a real event as well?

What's the deal with "lions eating the sun"?

The "lion eating the sun" is a symbol from alchemy representing impurities being removed from gold by the use of vitriol.  (Originally it was a "green lion eating the sun", and vitriol is green.)  It has been extended to refer to people in two senses: a positive sense of spiritual purification of a person (removing the corruption to reveal the gold within), and a negative sense of corruption or destruction for personal gain (destroying part of oneself for the sake of obtaining gold).  In the latter sense, it could clearly refer to the betrayal aspect of the AB Game.

When is the next game going to be produced?

So far, it has not been announced. According to Uchikoshi's twitter, VLR was "not yet considered commercially successful" on Nov 27, 2012.

What's the relationship of Schrodinger's Cat to the game?

The interpretation of Schrodinger's Cat given in VLR is a common one in pop culture, but it's actually incorrect. Although the description of the experiment (with the cat, bottle of poison, box, etc) is correct, the implication that it's a fact of the universe that unobserved things are in multiple unknown states at once (technically called a superposition) is not. Schrodinger's Cat was actually an attack on theories that implied a superposition could be exist, the intent being that the idea of a cat being alive and dead at once was ridiculous. 
This can be taken further, too. An example of this is Wigner's Friend. The idea of this is that Wigner's Friend performs the Schrodinger's Cat experiment in a locked lab while Wigner himself is standing outside. When Wigner's friend opens the box, he sees the cat as either alive or dead, but what does this mean for Wigner, who has not seen it yet? Is the cat still "alive or dead" for him? If yes, how can it be resolved that Wigner's friend knows the cat is alive or dead, but for Wigner it's still both? If no, why does Wigner's friend in his lab resolve the superposition, but the cat inside the box (also a living creature which is observing the system) not do so?
The idea that the Schrodinger's Cat effect suggests that the future can affect the past is also wrong, and we should be grateful for such: in the real world, this would destroy science! Science is based on the idea that we can observe things and work out what has caused them. If the future can affect the past then this would no longer be the case: even things we think we fully understand, like gravity, could actually depend on being caused by something that happens far in the future that we haven't observed yet and may never get to.

CLOVER;ENDEdit

In Clover's Ending, what kills everybody?

There are several possible answers:
  • Radical-6: all of the characters were affected by Radical-6, and killed themselves. This is certainly the case for Phi, who is seen alive during the ending but then dead at the end, and likely the case for Alice. However, it is not clear why Radical-6 would be particularly active in this timeline and not others, and it seems unlikely that a group of people gripped by irrational suicidal impulses would all go to exactly the same room and organize themselves into all killing themselves with the same tiny weapon (although, if it's true that people on Earth with Radical-6 arranged to detonate the annihilation reactors to kill themselves, it's possible)
  • Clover: Clover may have killed one or more people after discovering Alice dead (in the same way that she threatens to Tenmyouji's route, except that Sigma isn't there to intervene) and then killed herself, either due to Radical-6 or regret.  The problem with this theory is that it seems unlikely that Clover would be able to kill the entire group. Although she has done this before (in the Axe ending of 999), there is considerably more resistence here (in particular, K, who is not seen dead) and she openly declared her intent to kill everyone before doing so (whereas in 999, she is able to hide the axe from the other players and ambush them one by one)
  • A fight over the neostigmine:  If Clover told others that she was carrying the neostigmine, and that this could allow someone who had less than 9 points to escape, it is likely that several people would potentially be prepared to kill for this - most notably Dio. However, there is again the problem of everyone having used the same weapon, which is unlikely in any ongoing brawl.
It is also notable that in this ending, Luna appears to be lying dead in a pool of red blood, which shouldn't be possible. This means that parts of the scene may have been staged, although the reason why is not apparent.

LUNA; ENDEdit

If Luna is a Three Laws robot, how can she allow the game to happen at all?

Isaac Asimov's book I, Robot was mostly about the implications of the Three Laws (the movie is very different from the book, although it shares this theme). In that book, it was made clear that a Three Laws robot cannot tolerate harm to humans in any way, because of the first law stating "A robot may not harm a human being.. nor through inaction allow a human being to come to harm."  Also, the second law states that "A robot must obey orders provided they do not conflict with the first law", which means that the robot must ignore orders that harm people or abandon them to harm. 
In Luna's case, she breaks this several times. For example, Luna could not allow Akane to plan to be stabbed by Dio, an upon discovering that the bracelets can be removed using aluminium foil she would need to remove everyone's lest someone die later. Luna does acknowledge that she has broken the First Law in LUNA; END, which implies a different interpretation from Asimov's original, in which a robot simply could not break the Laws.
The secret files suggest that Luna may also be following the "Zeroth Law", added by Asimov in some of his later books such as Foundation And Earth: "a robot may not injure humanity, nor by inaction allow humanity to come to harm", and the first law applies only when it does not conflict with the Zeroth. This resolves a number of problems, including the one presented in the movie of I, Robot (where the robots believe that the First Law requires them take over the planet and rule humans, as otherwise the humans may hurt each other), and possibly Luna's actions too if Radical-6 is deemed to be a threat to humanity. However, Luna doesn't seem to know about it.

K; ENDEdit

Why is Dio's bracelet broken?

If K really killed Dio in this timeline, who broke Dio's bracelet? Did Dio notice that K reduced the oxygen level in his treatment pod and wanted to take revenge on him? Or was it K himself because he didn't want to live anymore after he remembered who the old woman was and realised that Dio killed that person who was very precious to him? It has been officially stated by the creator of the game in his FAQ that he did this to test his father's love. He wanted to see whether Sigma would save him or Phi, but unfortunately young Sigma's conciousness did not know Kyle yet.

Another Time ENDEdit

Who is ?

The most common view is that ? is the player.  It fits perfectly: the player is "from the outside of their system", they know all kinds of things they shouldn't about the setting, they can (effectively) travel between timelines in Akane's world more flexibly than any of the characters can, and Akane suggests their participation will be necessary to stop the virus (in other words, you've got to play the sequel).  On the other hand, this leaves a bit of a problem with the assertion that K has swapped bodies with ?...
This interpretation was effectively confirmed by the author, Uchikoshi, who tweeted in response to a fan asking about ?'s identity on 19 Nov 2012: "@Dobu_Dobu Thanks a lot! I'm very glad. so I'm likely to faint. Is that Blick Winkel? The answer is Yes. :D".  Blick Winkel is a reference to another Uchikoshi game, Ever 17: The Out of Infinity, in which Blick Winkel is the name given to the player (who, like the described character in VLR, is represented by a presence with the ability to jump between timelines). Uchikoshi has also stated that the player or the memory of the player (in both 999 and VLR) is meant to represent the Morphogenetic Resonance.
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